Five Tips For Shopping At Liquidation Sales

One of the unfortunate consequences of a bad economy is a stream of liquidation sales, where retailers slash prices to unload merchandise before going out of business. Consumers can find some great bargains at these sales, but there are pitfalls to avoid in order to get a good deal.

The New Jersey Society of Certified Public Accountants (NJSCPA) provides some money-wise hints on the best way to make the most of these sales:

Check the Quality

If the item you purchased at a liquidation sale is damaged, or if it stops working shortly after you buy it, chances are that you will be unable to return the product. Find out before you buy whether all sales are final. If returns are possible, you still may be out of luck if the retailer shuts its doors for good before you can return the merchandise. That’s why it’s particularly important to make sure you’re getting products that are in good working condition and that boxes contain all the necessary parts.

Before you purchase, examine each item carefully for any damage, and see if you can test any electronics or appliances. Also find out if there is a warranty on the product, so that you can appeal to the manufacturer if it turns out to be defective. Buying with a credit card can protect you, too, because some card issuers will remove the charge from your account under certain circumstances if you contest the purchase in writing.

Double Check Those Bargains
Don’t assume that everything you see at a going-out-of-business sale is at bargain basement pricing. Before going to a sale, compare prices at other stores, in catalogs or online to get a sense if you’re getting a good deal. You will be better equipped to decide if the sale items are bargains or merely hype. Just because a store has lowered its prices doesn’t mean it has the best deal around.

Buy Wisely
In the crush of excitement over rock-bottom prices, it can be hard to resist the temptation to buy products you don’t really need. Remember that getting a great deal on something that doesn’t suit your needs is still a waste of money. To prevent a bad choice, avoid impulse picks at these sales and, instead, prepare a list of possible purchases in advance and stick to it once you get to the store.

Watch for Outside Goods
Some retailers in distress turn their merchandise over to professional liquidators who run the going-out-of-business sales for them. These liquidators sometimes ship in outside goods that they are trying to unload and add them to the retailer’s merchandise. They can price these items however they like, which means they are not necessarily bargains. To avoid these items, check the tags to see if they differ from the retailer’s usual tags. If they do, consider carefully the quality and value of what you’re buying.

Try Again Later
If you think the liquidation sales prices are too high, don’t give up altogether. If you really want the item, consider returning to the store in a few days. You may find further reductions as the final closing date draws nearer.

Consult Your CPA
We all want to avoid wasteful spending and get the most for our dollar, especially in a bad economy. If you have questions about the best ways to spend your money,  turn to your local CPA. He or she has the answers to the financial questions you and your family are facing. If you don’t have a CPA, you can easily locate one online using the NJSCPA’s free, online Find-A-CPA service. Just go to, and in a few clicks you can locate a highly qualified professional who can assist you.

For more information on various personal financial matters, visit the NJSCPA’s public service website at While visiting, you can subscribe to Your Money Matters, the NJSCPA’s free, monthly email newsletter to receive valuable personal financial planning advice throughout the year.

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